26 September 2023

100-year-old “internet” goes online

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The National Library of Australia has digitised all the almanacs in its collection to make them freely available online from anywhere in the world through Trove.

Director-General of the Library, Marie-Louise Ayres explained that almanacs were all common in Australian homes 100 years ago, kept in every home and “the equivalent of the internet today”.

“Almanacs contained all sorts of information, from weather forecasts, important days and dates, transport guides, advertisements, poetry and fiction, first aid and medical information to stories of disasters and other tabloid fodder,” Dr Ayres said.

“Making the almanacs available to researchers and students online will unlock the potential for new insights into our past to be uncovered,” she said.

“From long term weather forecasts to landcare information, statistical data and potentially long-forgotten basic information is contained in the almanacs.”

Dr Ayres said she hoped that some of the insights researchers found in the documents could be used to inform how Australia was cared for in the future.

She said the earliest almanac digitised was the 1833 Van Diemen’s Land annual and Hobart-Town almanacks and the latest was the Lutheran Yearbook from 1970.

“Other titles made available include Australian and State specific almanacs such as the Australian Almanac, Pugh’s Almanac, Calvert’s illustrated almanac for Victoria, Western Australian Almanac and the Adelaide Almanack through to regional and town almanacs like the Hunter River Almanac,” the Director-General said.

Former Deputy Chair of the National Library and a Principle Patron, whose philanthropic donation funded the project, Jane Hemstritch said the almanacs were fascinating in their own right but also a reflection of the concerns and interests of people living in Australia at that time.

“As a family history enthusiast, I am always interested in the world in which my ancestors lived,” Ms Hemstritch said.

“Almanacs give us a window into that world,” she said.

“They are, in a way, the internet of their time, full of useful information.”

The almanacs can be accessed at the National Library by searching in this PS News link.

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